Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Happy New Year!

Hard to believe we've reached the end of 2002 already. (Well, OK, technically, as I write this, my own time zone has about 10 hours left in the year. But whatever.) It's been kind of an interesting year, with various ups and downs, and probably sidewayses (not that that remotely resembles an actual word). I'll be interested to see what 2003 brings, though, frankly, I wouldn't have been too unhappy if it would have taken a bit more time to get here. The years seem to be going by faster and faster of late. It's making me feel old. And mortal. And I don't like it much.

Ah, well. New Year's Eve is no time to go getting all depressed. Especially as it turns out I have off work this evening, after all, despite originally having assumed that I'd be working until midnight. So I think I'm gonna go and hang out with some friends and relax. If we run true to form, we'll probably end up watching cheesy movies and chatting about RPGs and I'll do my ususal minimal amount of drinking. Sounds pretty good to me!

Best wishes for 2003 to all of you! If I don't end up blogging again before I leave, I'll see y'all next year!

Monday, December 30, 2002

Life Support Systems Are Back On Line, Captain.

Well, I now have heat and hot water once again! But tell me, why is everything always so bloody difficult? It seemed fairly straightforward: I called the gas guys, they showed up around noon and filled the tank. All I had to do was turn the valve back on and relight the pilots, right? Simple. Well, simple except for the fact that my furnace hates me. It's the only explanation I can think of for why it refuses to light for me. Ever. I figured maybe the gas valve was clogged up again, since that was the problem the last two times, so after three or four failed attempts, I called the furnace guys. Furnace guys said they wouldn't be able to make it by until 4:30, which was kind of annoying, as I was supposed to be at work at 3:45. OK, not a big problem. I called work and told them I'd be late. The boss is off on vacation, the guy I would have been relieving had plenty of notice, and I can make the time up later. It bugs me to do stuff like that, but I figure this kind of qualified as an emergency. So I sat and waited. And waited. The furnace guys finally showed up around 5:30. (Not something I hold against them, by the way, especially as they apologized a lot.) Then, here's the kicker: they looked thoughtfully at the furnace for a minute or so, repeated the exact same sequence I had used, and got the triple-damned thing to light on the very first try. And charged me fifty-eight bucks for the house call.

What the hell did I ever do to that furnace, that's what I want to know...
I'm in TV Guide!

So, I finally got down to the post office to pick up all the mail that piled up while I was gone (and ye gods, but there was a lot of it!), and what did I discover, in with all my bills and junk mail, but the latest issue of TV Guide. Which is hardly a surprising event, considering that I have a subscription. But what was surprising is that they actually printed a letter I sent them a while back in response to an article they did on Taken:

I find it darkly amusing to read Sci Fi Channel's Bonnie Hammer referring to Taken as "big and different," but also a "big risk" ["Close Encounters," November 30]. Sci Fi had something big and different -- and successful! It was called Farscape. I won't be watching Taken. Why bother with Sci Fi at all if all they do is give their good shows the ax?

Not that that's anything that anyone who's read this blog or spent more than half an hour or so talking to me in person hasn't heard from me before, but, wow, suddenly my annoyed rantings about Sci Fi are reaching a national audience! It's almost enough to make me forgive them for printing those Nemesis spoilers...

Sunday, December 29, 2002

I Know, I Know, I Should Be Answering My Huge Backlog of E-Mail, Not Taking Still More Silly Quizzes...

But I like this result much better than the last LotR quiz!

What Lord of the Rings Male and Mood Do You Desire?

brought to you by Quizilla

President of the High Council Of Time Lords, Keeper of the Legacy of Rassilon, Defender of the Laws of Time and Protector of Gallifrey! That's Me!

Which Doctor Who are you?
this quiz was made by Auntie Krizu(:>)

Cool. He's one of my favorite Doctors. (Admittedly, I have four of them, but, hey...)

(Warning: the person who designed this test has an amusing but naughty sense of humor. Take at own risk.)

I woke up at about 5:30 this morning to the smell of propane gas. Needless to say, this is never a good thing. Turns out that I apparently misjudged the amount of fuel the ol' trailer would need to get through the week while I was gone. Can you say "major oops"? I did check it and realize that it was dangerously low when I got back and turned the heat way down in an effort to conserve it, but, alas, that didn't serve to postpone the inevitable very long. So, it's about 35 degrees outside at the moment, and I am without heat or hot water (or a stove, but who cares about that?). Deep, deep sigh. The really disgusting thing, of course, is that, as always when I desperately require some sort of emergency household service, it's a weekend. Meaning I'm going to have a really frosty night before I can get someone out to fill up the tank and get everything back in working order again tomorrow. You know, I know this makes me sound churlish in the extreme (if not downright evil), but I'm honestly starting to grow a strong dislike of this whole concept of "weekends." I mean, damn it, I have to work on Sunday, so why don't the propane guys have to work to fill my needs, huh?

Ah, well, maybe the freezing temperature is making me surly. I'm sure it's not doing anything positive for my cold...

Saturday, December 28, 2002

So, Did Ya Miss Me?

Well, I am finally back home again, and, yes, back to my old bloggish ways. As you can see, I didn't do any updates while I was away... Actually, it was kind of interesting to experience a week or so during which my only medium of communication with my fellow human beings involved the transmission of compression waves through air, usually without the intervention of any electronic devices at all. It was strange, very strange, but it made for kind of a nice change of pace.

Anyway, the trip went very well... We were plagued by some unfortunate health problems, though. I came down with a moderately nasty cold (which I've still got, annoyingly enough). I blame airplane germs, thought I'm sure the damp, chilly Northwestern climate didn't help, especially given that I'm a fully habituated desert dweller these days. That's nothing, though, compared to the plight of my poor stepfather, who's been having major attacks of back pain. It was bad enough that they (meaning my stepdad, my mom, and my grandmother, who all made the trip up from California by car) decided to cut their stay short and head back the day after Christmas. Here's hoping something can be done for him. To say that the experience looked to be No Fun At All would be a massive, massive understatement.

Otherwise, though, things were pretty good. We did the family Christmas thing, with much frenzied shredding of wrapping paper and all the usual attendent chaos. I got to see my little nephew, who has, indeed, metamorphosed into a recognizable (if tiny) human being since I saw him last. Did some shopping. (OK, far too much shopping, as my bank balance can now attest.) Got out for a couple of brief trips into the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest. And I got to hang out with my sister and her husband, which is really cool, because we have a lot of interests in common and generally have no trouble thinking of fun things to do together.

I could go on and on, because I do, after all, have a week's worth of blogging to catch up with. At some point, I'll undoubtedly talk about The Two Towers (which I did catch right before I left), and about what it's like sharing a house with a one-and-a-half-year-old for a week, and about what I bought with the Powell's gift certificate my sister bought me for Christmas. But I'm tired and mildly brain-fried at the moment, so that'll all have to wait.

Meanwhile, some statistics to amuse you: 308 e-mails arrived while I was gone, meaining that I now owe e-mail to approximately half the known universe. And this blog got lots of hits while I was gone, but at least half of them were from people looking for nude pictures of Legolas, with a fairly significant percentage of the remainder looking for nude pictures of Gigi Edgley. I'm almost disappointed by that lack of creativity, but I suppose that's what happens when you don't update.

And that's about it for your resumption-of-normal-blog-service message. Hope everybody's holidays have been happy! Catch ya later!

Friday, December 20, 2002

On Hiatus, Again

OK, this is probably the last post you'll see from me for a little while. My plans for the next week or so go something like this: I get off work at 8 AM (about six hours off as I write this), sleep until 4-ish tomorrow, head up to Albuquerque, hook up with a friend, go see The Two Towers, crash at the friend's house (although given that I'll be coming off the night shift, I doubt I'll actually be able to get much sleep), then head off for the Albuquerque airport on Sat. morning and catch a plane for Oregon, where I'm going to be visiting my sister for a week. So, it's basically the same set-up as when I went off to New Jersey last month: it's entirely possible that I'll snurch some time on my sister's machine to update this blog, but that's probably not going to be my main priority, so don't be holding your breath while waiting for yet more of my profound and deathless words.

Happy holidays to all, and I'll "see" you when I get back!
Plug, Plug.

Just a reminder for those who care that the Sci-Fi Channel will be airing a Farscape marathon on Dec. 24th. (Of course, it's absolutely typical of Sci-Fi's treatment of this show that they've chosen the single day of the year when American TV-watching is at its lowest to do this, but I'm sure I've ranted on that subject more than enough already.) It's running from 8 AM to 7 PM (Eastern/Pacific time) and will consist of the entire first half of Season 4, airing in order. So, if you've been wondering what the heck is so great about this show that I keep going on (and on, and on) about on this blog, now's your chance to find out! Admittedly, the fourth season is a little confusing even if you're a regular viewer, but that need not be an insuprable obstacle. There's a very good primer on the show that you can read for a run-down on who the characters are and for the story thus far (though, just to warn you, it covers up through the midpoint of season 4, and thus contains spoilers for the first half). And, hey, if you want to e-mail me with questions (like "Who are these people?" and "What the hell is going on?"), I'm always more than happy to talk at length about my favorite TV shows. (Although I'm afraid you'll have to wait for an answer until I get back from Oregon in about a week if you do.)

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Where, Oh Where Have My Archives Gone?

My archive links have disappeared, and nothing I do seems to be inducing them to come back. It looks like this blog is probably going to be archiveless for the next week or so while I'm away on vacation, unless they mysteriously come back (not that that would be the first time that ever happened). Stupid blogger.
Oh, Yeah, This Never Gets Old.

I find this rather hard to believe, but this humble blog has now had over 3,000 hits! And while most of those are from what I think of as my Six Loyal Readers (although that number seems to have expanded slightly of late), a fairish number of them are from poor, misguided souls who are looking for actual information and content on things they're specifically interested in. Often really disturbing things, but it is mine not to judge, only to mock. Yes, folks, that's right, it's once again time for WACKY SEARCH ENGINE REQUESTS! Let's see what fresh goofiness we've had in the last couple of weeks:

  • chiana in bondage: I knew I was gonna get hits for that one! I wonder if I can count that towards my "hits for naked pictures of Farscape characters" collection? Technically, it doesn't count. Then again, I've also gotten a hit for naked pictures of Gigi Edgley, so I think if you put 'em together, they count. We'll call that four characters down, then!

  • Wil Wheaton naked pictures: No. Just just no, but Hell, no.

  • Farscape nude pictures: I'm not counting this one. Too broad. Individual characters only, please!

  • frodo naked: Sam will kill you if you try anything. (Note: click on link at own risk. I take no responsibility for offensive content or ruined keyboards.)

  • jurassic park the novel by michael crichton is an allegory: Interestingly enough, I did use all those words. Just not in proximity to each other. I'm curious as to what this person thought the book was an allegory of. I strongly suspect that they may be confusing the notion of theme, which is a very broad concept, with that of allegory, which is a much more specific concept, involving a deliberate one-to-one correspondence of elements. And, uh, I have no idea why I felt the need to get into an English Lit lecture. Let's move on, shall we?

  • naked legolas picture: Alas, no. I have no naked LotR pictures on this blog whatsoever. Only the rather unwelcome suggestion that I should be dating Frodo.

  • "blake's 7" + gary glitter: Interesting to contemplate what those two things have in common. Outrageous costumes definitely come to mind.
  • monty python the galaxy song accuracy: Actually, most of the figures in "The Galaxy Song" are surprisingly accurate, though a lot of them have been rounded off rather liberally, probably to make the song scan better. I once calculated the orbital velocity of the Earth just to see if Eric Idle had gotten it right, and I'm proud to say that he did. It's 19 miles/second, almost spot-on.

  • job restaurant -thai apply: I wonder what they've got against Thai restaurants?

  • Yo, Hobbiton! Tom Bombadil Is in the House!

    From the "I couldn't make this stuff up" department, it's rap music from Middle Earth. "By the time Gollum steps up to the mic and rocks the beatbox, all you half-orcs will be groveling like a poor man's wormtongue. Straight up." Who knew Gollum had that kind of rhythm? The website's pretty darned funny all by itself, actually, but you gotta download the MP3. It's worth it, even with a dial-up connection. This is the same kind of funny as Bored of the Rings, only instead of being a product of the psychedelic 60's it's, you know, rap. And I say this as someone who doesn't even like rap.

    Wednesday, December 18, 2002

    Now, That's More Like It!

    I've spent so much time being critical of Enterprise, on this blog and elsewhere, that it seems only fair of me to offer up praise when the show actually does something right. Let it be known, then, that I in fact quite liked tonight's episode, "The Catwalk." It's no Trekkish classic, to be sure, but it was a good, solid, entertaining episode, and, hey, that's all I really ever asked for from the show.

    To begin with, the premise -- which involves the entire Enterprise crew having to retreat to a cramped but heavily-shielded "catwalk" area for a week in order to wait out some kind of radiation storm -- is a pretty good one, with a lot of potential for exploring some interesting character dynamics. And, amazingly enough, it actually does follow through on that potential. The brief scenes between Archer and T'Pol, in particular, do much more to make their relationship feel believable and interesting than any number of episodes like "A Night in Sickbay" -- in which the writers were all but waving their arms around and shouting "Look, there's tension between them! All kinds of tension!" in our faces -- could possibly achieve. Phlox's scenes were also quite good. The bit where he's expressing his distress over the possibility of having to leave some of his critters behind to die ("I am not accustomed to emotional appeals.") is played with an emotional understatedness that's very rare in Trek, and it's nice. And, while Travis still doesn't get much of anything to do, characterization-wise, at least there's one reference to that potentially interesting but never-developed background the writers gave him, so he's better served here than in most episodes.

    There were also a couple of really obscure little continuity nods that I greatly enjoyed. Cool Continuity Nod #1: On the catwalk, a crewman is doing a crossword puzzle and needs know know the name of the first Vulcan ambassador to Earth (six letters, ends in "r"). Archer gives it to her: Solkar. In case you haven't happened to watch The Search for Spock lately, Solkar was the grandfather of Sarek and great-grandfather of Spock. It seems those ambassadorial genes really do run in Spock's family! Cool Continuity Nod #2: T'Pol makes a reference to the kaswan ritual, in which Vulcan children are sent into the desert to survive on their own for several days. This comes directly from the animated episode "Yesteryear." Which pleases me greatly because, unlike many or most Trek fans, I've always regarded the animated series as canonical Star Trek. Especially "Yesteryear," which was a darned good episode. (Hmm, I wonder if those are ever going to be released on DVD?)

    Sure, the episode was hardly without problems. Once it gets away from the character stuff and into the action bits, it starts to drag a little. And there are a few plot points I really have to wonder about. (Why didn't they just evacuate to the planet? Why didn't the aliens' sensors pick up the life signs of the crew? If the bad guy had access to Archer's logs and was wondering where he went, why didn't he just call up the most recent entry: you know the one that undoubtedly says "We're all going to go huddle in the catwalk to wait out the radiation storm"?) But in an episode that's otherwise entertaining, I can forgive a few loose ends and minor plot holes.

    Oh, and, whatever Enterprise's faults (and, yes, they are many), I do have to give it credit for being the first Trek series to admit that even Starfleet's finest do have to use the bathroom occasionally.

    OK, Enterprise writers, let's have more like this one and less like last week's! Pretty please?
    Mmm-Mmm, Pass the Crispy Grolak, Please!

    Well, I got my Farscape cookbook in the mail today. And I have to say, I'm pretty impressed. For a fan-produced fund-raiser thingy, it's really quite spiffy and professional-looking. Some of the recipes look pretty good, too. I should really try cooking some of them sometime. (Heck, I should just cook sometime, period. The sad thing is, I've got a whole shelf full of cookbooks, and these days I never use any of them. I can sit the Farscape cookbook right next to the Star Trek cookbook that I've never acutally cooked from...)

    Even if I never do get around to making any of the recipes, though, it's kind of a fun little book. There's a lot of humor scattered in-between the recipes, and a lot of amusing joke recipes, too. E.g.:
    Coup by Clam:

    1 pkg purple jello
    1 pkg green jello
    1 pkg yellow jello

    Follow package directions. Do NOT eat with someone you don't like!

    Well, OK, it's funny if you've seen the episode. There's also another "Coup by Clam" recipe for actual clams, which, come to think of it is also kind of funny if you've seen the episode. I mean, that ep would have been enough to put me off of clams for life, if I'd ever actually had any desire to eat the things in the first place...

    Tuesday, December 17, 2002

    Look, It's a Silly Quiz Result and a Lord of the Rings Post!

    Who is your Ideal Lord of the Rings (male) Mate?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    Hmm. You know, that's not, uh, quite the result I was hoping for...
    Commentary Commentary

    I gotta say, they really do give you your money's worth on the extended Fellowship of the Ring dics. I just finished listening to the cast commentary, and that was a lot of fun. It's great to hear all the actors' reminiscences and all the behind-the-scenes anecdotes, not to mention the way they alternately praise each other's performances to the high heavens and rag on each other mercilessly (but always in good fun). Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd are particularly amusing; apparently they're as much of a two-many comedy team in real life as their characters are on the screen, and their jokes about how Merry & Pippin are the real heroes of the story and how they left all the elf-girls brokenhearted when they left Rivendell are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. In between all the joking, though, they've all got interesting and insightful things to say about their characters. And I love the way that "the hobbits," probably quite unconsciously, tend to keep saying, "Oh, this is the best scene in the movie!" over and over. They're probably right every time, too. Viggo Mortensen, oddly, is conspicuous by his absence. I wonder if he was unavailable for the commentary, or if he just decided he didn't want to do it?

    Anyway, it's definitely whetted my appetite for The Two Towers even further, if that's at all possible. I've heard that, amazingly enough, the crappy little theater here in town is actually going to get it in on Wednesday, which makes it all the harder to wait until Friday when I'm going to be up in Albuquerque to see it. It's absolutely worth waiting a couple of days to see it on a decent screen, though. So I shall grit my teeth and be patient...

    Monday, December 16, 2002

    Boy, Am I Popular!

    I've had 32 hits on this blog today. 32. I think that's an all-time record. Gee, I guess those "I've got nothing to blog about" blog posts really bring 'em in...
    All Logged In And Nothing To Blog

    I think I'm suffering from one of the classic signs of blog addiction. Or I would be, if blog addiction as a phenomenon had been around long enough to have classic signs. (Not that it takes long for anything to become "classic" these days. I mean, have you listened to any classic rock stations lately? When did some of that stuff become "classic," for crying out loud?) My problem is that I've got this nagging feeling that I have to blog something. Right now. I mean, I haven't posted anything in well over 24 hours, and even that was just some piddly little thing about how I'd finished my Christmas shopping. I'm disappointing my readers, here! All six of them! Plus, if I don't post something pretty much every day from now until I leave on vacation, that pathetic even-geekier-than-usual post from last Wednesday in which I lament the fact that other geeks might no longer be nearly as impressed as they used to be by my ability to quote Spock's estimate of how many tribbles there were in the quadrotriticale[*] is going to be on the front page of the blog for another week. And how embarrassing would that be?

    So, there's this irritable little voice in my head somewhere that won't let me relax and do anything else until I update this damned blog page. Problem is, I've got nothing I feel like talking about. They haven't cancelled any more of my favorite TV shows, at least not that I've heard. (Not that there are very many of them left to cancel, anyway.) I have had no new and exciting insights about TV shows or anything else. I haven't done anything particularly interesting today, unless you think there's something deeply fascinating about eating a hamburger or doing laundry or spending five hours playing The Sims.

    So I started searching the web for interesting things to blog about. Maybe I could mention this online "ESP Experiment". Or this page of cartoons (including some Star Trek-themed ones, like this one or this one or this one. I could mention that there are some interesting (if spoiler-laden and mostly scathingly negative) reviews of Nemesis over at Ain't It Cool News, as if that were a website nobody on Earth would ever manage to find without my help. But none of that seemed worth centering a blog post around, really.

    I started surfing random blogs, desperately hoping to encounter something blog-worthy. I did that until the same ones started showing up again, and then I figured it was really time to stop. (This was the best one I came across. There's a good post on how DVDs and Tivos are revolutionizing our TV-viewing habits. (Well, OK, Tivo isn't revolutionizing my viewing habits, because I haven't got one, but the basic point still stands.) But that wasn't really worth blogging about, either.)

    And then, what the heck, I just started typing. And now that stupid voice has finally shut up, so I can stop.

    To all six of my loyal readers: my apologies. But, hey, just because I was compelled to write this stupid post doesn't mean anybody was compelling you to read it!

    [*] 1, 771, 561.

    Saturday, December 14, 2002

    The Ordeal Is Over! At Least Until Next Year...

    I've finally finished up all my Christmas shopping. Well, OK, I've still got one item that's not actually in my possession yet, but the company I ordered it from e-mailed me a couple of days ago and assured me that it had just been shipped, so I should have it in my hot little, wrapping-paper-and-tape-filled hands very soon. Now the big question is how I'm going to haul all this stuff to my sister's place on the plane...

    If you're still desperately looking for some last-minute gift ideas, may I recommend Dave Barry's Gift Guide? I'm particularly fond of the duct tape purse, myself. Hint, hint.

    Friday, December 13, 2002

    Nemesis (No Spoilers, I Hope!)

    Well, it didn't suck. Mind you, it's not The Wrath of Khan (although it obviously wants very badly to be; more on that in a minute), but it's not Star Trek V, either. I think I'd rank it at more or less the same level as STVI: The Undiscovered Country, a movie that had a number of flaws and a few individual scenes that really annoyed me, but was overall worth watching, nevertheless. Here's the rundown.

    The Good:

  • A bit of something for everybody: humor, character stuff, action, space battles...

  • An interesting premise with some fairly signficant dramatic potential.

  • Wonderful FX that serve the story rather than overshadowing it. Visually, the whole thing is very impressive.

  • An ending that would have been surprising and affecting, if god-damned TV Guide hadn't basically given it away to anyone with the barest modicum of ability to read between the lines. Bastards.

  • Romulans. It's good to see the Romulans again. I always thought they had a lot more potential than the Klingons, based on their appearances in the original series, but they've been woefully underused ever since.

  • The Bad:

  • There were a number of plot points that I found, let's say, somewhat suspect, and one or two things that were just kinda goofy.

  • The bad guy isn't nearly as incredibly cool and impressive as he's obviously meant to be. I don't think that's really anybody's fault, though. The actor is obviously doing his damnedest, and his dialog isn't bad. (OK, it does a get a little hokey now and then, but, hey, whose doesn't?) I think the problem is that Ricardo Montalban completely ruined the chances of every Trek bad guy who came after him by setting an impossible standard to follow. If you ask me, only General Chang of The Undiscovered Country comes within an order of magnitude of him, and he doesn't actually get all that much screen time.

  • The movie's obviously trying to do way, way, too many things at once. There's this weird and complicated premise/plot which involves a lot of backstory that has to be conveyed. There's a lot of highly signficant character stuff. There are major changes that are taking place on the Enterprise. And since all of this has to be crammed into the same movie, none of it gets quite the treatment that it deserves.

  • The pace is a bit uneven, and drags in a couple of places between the big action scenes.

  • And, yes, large parts of it do remind me very, very strongly of The Wrath of Khan, to the point where several times I seriously half-expected to hear them quoting lines of dialog from the earlier movie. OK, if you're going to steal, by all means, steal from the best. But I'm afraid that the overfamiliarity of a lot of the story elements really worked against the effect they were trying to achieve. (I'd love to go into specifics, here, but I promised myself I would post no spoilers until the movie's been out for a while, since I don't want to do to anybody else what TV Guide did to me.)

    Again, my overall assessment is that, yes, it belongs with other even-numbered movies, but that it ranks low in the even-numbered heirarchy.

    Oh, and just to prove I'm still the Trekkie Queen: There's an unanswered Trek trivia question buried somewhere in the movie, and, for the record, the answer is "Pop Goes the Weasel." Do I get a prize?
  • Another One Bites the Dust

    It would seem that the rumors being spread in my comments section are, unfortunately, true: Fox is booting Firefly out the airlock.

    You know, I could save about $400 a year if I just cancelled my cable...

    Thursday, December 12, 2002

    Yet Another Quiz...

    But this one's definitely a quiz after my own heart: What Science Fiction Writer Are You? I came out as Hal Clement (Harry C. Stubbs): "A quiet and underrated master of 'hard science' fiction who, among other things, foresaw integrated circuits back in the 1940s." Haven't read very much of his stuff, actually, and what I did read was ages and ages ago, but I remember rather liking Mission of Gravity and being a bit under-impressed with The Nitrogen Fix.

    I have the distinct feeling that if I came back and took this one on a different day, though, I'd come out as somebody else...
    Phooey. I Wanted to Be New York.

    I don't think I've been taking nearly enough stupid quizzes lately, do you?

    Congratulations, you're Washington, DC., the capitol of the United States.
    What US city are you? Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2002


    So, I got in touch with some friends today to see if they were interested in going to see Star Trek: Nemesis this weekend, and for the most part the reaction was decidedly lukewarm. (Towards the movie that is, not towards the idea of going to the movies with me. I hope!) And I have to say, I can understand this. It's really kind of sad, though. When I was young, there was very little that was more exciting than a new Trek movie. I'd wait with quivering enthusiasm for the movie to come out, rush out to see it on opening night, and then most likely go back three or four times to see it again. And for pretty much everyone I knew (being as I always have run with an exceedingly geeky crowd), it wasn't a question of if you were going to see the new Star Trek movie, but only of when. And now my friends are like, "eh," and I don't really blame them, because, even though the previews look pretty cool, my own reaction is mostly something along the lines of, "Gee, I really hope it doesn't suck."

    I fear the time of Star Trek is past.

    The thing is, I remember when Trek was it. The first week I was in college, an upperclassman cheerfully told me, "Star Trek is the closest thing we have to an organized religion around here." (Well, it was a tech school.) And it was true. Everything on campus would come to a complete standstill on Saturday afternoons when Star Trek: The Next Generation was on, and everyone would be talking about the episode the next day. And I, I was the Trekkie Queen. Which, given that this was a tech school, was actually an extremely cool thing to be. Complete strangers would walk up to me and ask me Trek trivia questions. Large groups of people would show up in my dorm room to watch TNG, because they absolutely knew that I'd be there and that it would be on. I had a rep. Star Trek was cool. I was cool (again, for the tech school defenition of "cool"). Life was good.

    But eventually something happened. I'm not sure if it's that Star Trek got lamer or just that we got older -- probably a combination of both -- but either way, it's really pretty depressing. Today, Star Trek is passe. It's old hat. Something it's mildly embarrassing to still be into. And I, the former Trekkie Queen... find it difficult to disagree. For one thing, there's just nothing exciting about new Star Trek any more. There's too damned much of it on TV already, and very little of it is worth paying much attention to. That's been the case since Deep Space 9 went off the air, and, face it, comparatively few people watched Deep Space 9 anyway. Casual viewers found it hard to get into, and the geeks were busy deserting Star Trek for Babylon 5.

    The franchise has become watered-down and over-extended, a pale shadow of its former self. Part of me -- a rather large part -- wishes they'd just stopped making it years ago, so I could at least remember it with fond, happy nostalgia. As it is, it's far too much like watching someone you love descending into senility. Oh, Enterprise does show occasional moments of lucidity, but somehow those just make it all the more painful when it once again starts repeating the same rambling, pointless stories we've already heard a million times and which it will have forgotten all about telling us again by next week.

    I'd like to console myself with the thought that the reason Star Trek no longer enraptures me as it once did is that the quality of science fiction TV has increased greatly in the meantime, thus raising my expectations and standards. And that is true. Many great shows have come along in the last few years and done new things, innovative things, things that bring a freshness the over-mined Trek universe can no longer provide. But I look at the high-quality, standards-elevating shows that are on the air right now, and I can't help but notice a trend. Farscape: cancelled. Firefly: teetering on the edge of cancellation after a bare handful of episodes. Buffy: highly successful, but unlikely to last another season. Gee, somehow, that all just completely fails to comfort.

    I'm really hoping that Nemesis doesn't suck. It looks to be the last Next Gen movie, and, unlike the Trek franchise in general, I'd really like to see them go out with a bang, rather than a whimper.

    And in Business News...

    Apparently Viacom (which, among other things, holds the rights to all the Star Trek series), has expressed an interest in buying the Sci-Fi Channel, or possibly even in launching their own science fiction-oriented cable network. (Though the latter may be just a bit of wild speculation; it seems there was an article in Variety discussing the possibility, but you've got to be a subscriber to read most of it.)

    You think maybe they'd actually be interested in putting science fiction on the Sci-Fi Channel if they got it? Personally, I think it sounds like a hopeful possibility. They certainly couldn't make it any worse...
    Just My Luck...

    Turns out that Fox is finally going to be showing the 2-hour episode which should have been the premiere of Firefly next week (Friday, Dec. 20th). And, of course, that's the day I'm heading out of town. VCR, don't fail me! I'm counting on you!
    "Good Morning" Is an Oxymoron

    Tell me, why is it that no matter how much sleep I've actually had, even if I went to bed at 9:30 (as I did last night), it still takes a near-heroic act of will for me to haul my ass out of bed at 6:45 AM? Well, no, don't answer that. I know the reason: circadian rhythms, low body temperature, the fact that I just seem to be genetically predisposed to be a night person. Which is actually pretty handy when I'm working night shift; unlike most of my co-workers, I seldom have any problems sleeping during the daylight hours. But sometimes I really, really envy those damned morning people. The entire world seems to be geared towards them, have you noticed that?

    Pardon me. I must go and inhale some more coffee now.

    Tuesday, December 10, 2002

    Improve Your Pop-Cultural Literacy

    Here's another really cool site I just stumbled across, which should provide you with hours of entertaining link-clicking (at least, if you're as easily amused as I am): Pop Culture Junk Mail. Because, you know, there's not nearly enough pop culture junk on this blog.

    Among other things, I now know which Seasame Street Muppet character's Dark Secret I am, which I suppose is a good thing:

    Which Sesame Street Muppet's Dark Secret Are You?

    brought to you by Quizilla
    Back to Buffy

    Thanks to my good friend Greta (the Buffy goddess), who continues to send me tapes to feed my newest addiction, I am now pretty much caught up through season 4 of Buffy. Just got through the big climactic fight where they finally kick the bad guy's butt last night (after yet another marathon Buffy-watching session -- you can't watch just one!). I gather there's one more episode after that, but I'm not sure If I've got that one on tape or not. Never mind. I figure I've seen enough to have a pretty good handle on the fourth season, and to tide me over until it finally comes out on DVD.

    And I find that I have somewhat mixed feelings about it, actually. In terms of the character drama, it was excellent. I mean, if nothing else, you have to have a heart of stone not to ache for poor lil' Willow a time or two in there, and there were all kinds of interesting characterization shifts as Our Heroes adjusted to college life and the sudden onrush of adulthood. It's great stuff, and I was very caught up in it.

    On the other hand... Xander has a line in there, somewhere toward the end of the season: "Is anybody but me missing the Mayor?" Truth is, yeah, I have been. The 4th season's Big Bad, Adam, is an interesting character, and very well-acted, but he lacks the sheer presence of earlier villains like the Mayor and the Master, not to mention their quirky sense of humor. I also never felt that his motives and personality were quite as well-defined as they should have been, though it's quite possible that I missed something in the few episodes I haven't seen which would have provided that for me. The climactic battle, while probably unmatched for sheer body count, wasn't nearly as cool as the 3rd season's "Graduation," either... Although it tries, it just isn't quite up to the same level in terms of emotional resonance, or even sheer adrenal quality. And the whole concept of the "Initiative," while interesting to begin with, began to get a bit tiresome by the end of the season, possibly due to the fact that it just felt a bit to X-Files-ish. On the other hand, the idea of implanting an anti-violence chip in Spike's head was just brilliant (and makes me wonder anew if Joss Whedon is a Blake's 7 fan, since that show featured almost exactly the same gadget implanted in the brain of one of the main chracters). Spike's a great, funny character, and it's nice to have an excuse for him to hang around and actually help out the good guys on a semi-regular basis. Also, we got to see Giles singing, which in itself is almost enough to make the season shine for me.

    My next Buffy-related project is to get myself caught up on the 7th season as much as possible. I'm getting a bit tired of perpetually being far behind the rest of the universe in my Buffy-watching!

    Oh, and apparently the 3rd season DVDs will be out in a scant few weeks. It may be time to place a pre-order...

    Sunday, December 08, 2002

    You Gotta Laugh...

    OK, I just have to post a link here to Tachyon TV, which has to be the single funniest website devoted to science fiction TV I've ever seen. (You gotta love those Brits and their wacky sense of humor!) Favorite items from the current issue: the breaking news item informing us that "The 'thank you for your continued support' letter sent by the Sci-Fi channel to fans of Farscape has won the Best New Fiction category at this year's Saturn Award" and the spoiler blurb for Firefly ("Who cares - it'll be cancelled next week anyway"). Not the mention the sad news about the death of William Hartnell...
    Well, I Guess It's Officially Winter

    Our first snowfall of the year is currently happening right outside my window. So far it's moderately light, and it doesn't seem to be sticking... which is a good thing, since I have to drive home in a few hours, and road conditions in New Mexico get utterly insane when it snows.
    This Is Why I Never Have Any Money

    I just read a nice article at Salon.com about why books are so doggoned expensive these days. (Thanks to Uncertain Principles for the link.) Interestingly, it seems that when you adjust for inflation the price of hardbacks hasn't actually risen much since 1975. But paperbacks, as my wallet can attest, are another story entirely. "[T]he average price for mass-market paperback fiction has gone up a whopping 328 percent (from $1.35 in 1975 to $5.78 in 2000)," and "[a]djusting for inflation... the average price of mass-market paperbacks has gone up almost 40 percent," say the sources quoted in the article. Sheesh. What are us book addicts to do? Well, actually, the article does mention one of the things this book addict has certainly started doing: turning to trade paperbacks instead. Hey, when a regular "mass market" paperback costs $8 and the much nicer trade edition is $14, it often seems worth it to shell out the extra few bucks and feel like you're at least getting something for your money. Particularly when the hardback, which (for my purposes, at least) is only marginally preferable to the trade edition, costs you $35. Another thing I do, which the article doesn't address, is to buy cheap book club-edition hardbacks. They're smaller and more cheaply made than regular hardbacks, but they often cost about half the price. And, of course, as new book prices continue to skyrocket, I find myself increasingly turning to used books instead. I'm sure I've said it here before, but it bears repeating: thank goodness for library sales!

    Saturday, December 07, 2002


    Yeah, let's do this again.

    Current clothes: Gray sweatpants. A black Blake's 7 t-shirt with a picture of the Liberator flying under the 1st-3rd season logo. A red long-sleeve button-down denim shirt ubuttoned over it. (There's a tiny "Marlboro" logo towards the bottom of the strip of fabric with the buttonholes, because my mother got the shirt for sending in her cigarette boxtops, or whatever it is you send in from cigarettes.) Black socks. At the moment, I'm also wearing leopard-print slippers with big claw-tipped toes on the ends.

    Current mood: Pretty good. I was feeling really drug-out last night, and was a bit worried that I might be coming down with something, but I feel a lot better today. So that's a relief.

    Current music: In the stereo at the moment is Runaway Sunday by Altan, a traditional Celtic band I was first introduced to when they played here in Socorro a few years ago.

    Current hair: Well, a week or so ago a guy at work who I hadn't seen in a while said to me, "Did you redo your hair? It looks good." So I guess it's good. The secret is that I don't comb it. I just run my fingers through it in the morning and then forget about it.

    Current annoyance: The fact that there's still all kinds of junk piled up in my living room that I badly need to reorganize now that I've got the new entertainment center thingy in there.

    Current thing: I seem to be pretty much caught up in doing the "family" thing at the moment, between visiting one set of relatives in New Jersey last month and having another set over for Thanksgiving and getting ready to go up to Oregon to see my sister and her family over Christmas.

    Current desktop picture: This screen capture from a Farscape episode. It's particularly appropriate because the name of my computer is "Wormhole."

    Current song stuck in head: Amazingly, it's pretty quiet in here at the moment, but "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath has kept drifting in and out all day.

    Current book: I'm still reading The Talisman. Currently on pg. 661 out of 770. The end is in sight! Gimme a Hallelujah!

    Current video in player: I don't think there's actually anything at all in the VCR at the moment. Currently in the DVD player is the first extras disc for the Fellowship of the Ring extended-edition release.

    Current refreshment: I just had a Henry Weinhard's Vanilla Cream Soda. Damned good stuff.

    Current worry: Getting everything I need to get done before I leave for Christmas taken care of. Like finishing up my Christmas shopping and finding someone to watch my cats... Actually, not so much of a worry, just an annoyingly over-full To Do List.

    Current thought: That I probably don't really have all that many things to do, it's just that having anything at all to do bugs me.

    Friday, December 06, 2002

    Farscape Update

    Apparently Sci-Fi has been advertising the upcoming new episodes of Farscape during their series, Taken[*]. And, as usual, they're being more than a little... Oh, let's be polite and use the word "disingenuous." The ads refer to "the season premiere of Farscape," airing on January 10th. Well, it's not the season premiere, and they're not starting a new season. They're showing the second half of season four, just the way they always do after a great big gap in the middle (during which they doubtless lose some not-insignificant percentage of their viewers, but that's a rant for another day). At least one person I know who saw the ad got the impression from it that the show had been renewed for another season, after all. It hasn't been. Yet. (Hey, I can do optimism!)

    [*] Which I haven't been watching, in large part because I've just become so damned disillusioned with the Sci-Fi Channel that I can't work up any enthusiasm for watching their new shows at all. I mean, why bother when they only go and axe the good stuff, no matter how well it's doing for them?
    Lord of the DVDs

    Well, I did finally find the time to watch the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring last night, although I haven't even started going through all the extras. And, no question about it, the extra scenes are definitely a Good Thing. Actually, given that I suppose they pretty much had to cut the movie down to something approaching a reasonable length, the choice of which scenes to cut was overall pretty good. The movie worked perfectly well without them, so they obviously didn't contain anything overwhelmingly important in terms of plot. But having them back in the movie does add quite a bit of depth to the characters and the setting. In particular, the extended and loving look at the Shire at the beginning, while totally unneccessary in terms of plot, goes a very long way towards bringing home just what it is that Frodo is taking this journey for: the preservation of this timeless and innocent way of life that he loves so dearly.

    Among my favorite additions (warning: if you haven't seen the extended version yet and want to be all surprised, don't read!):

  • A scene between Bilbo and Frodo at the party, where Bilbo hints to Frodo about what he means to do and offers a vague apology. Without it, one does kind of get the impression from the movie that Bilbo just took off and left him without anything at all in the way of a goodbye, which seems a little unfair to poor Frodo.

  • Getting to meet the Sackville-Bagginses and Gaffer Gamgee, however briefly.

  • The reinsertion of what I always (for some reason) found to be one of the more memorable lines from Book I: Frodo's comment that a servant of the Enemy would likely "look fairer and seem fouler" than Strider.

  • More of the poems and rhymes that were such a major part of the original books, including a lot of singing in Elvish, which sounds just as beautiful as it's supposed to. I found Sam's little rhyme in memory of Gandalf particularly touching; it actually brought tears to my eyes, whatever its artistic qualities or lack thereof.

  • Frodo asking Gandalf whether Mordor is left or right, as he ceremoniously leads the Fellowship out on the start of the quest, which made me laugh out loud.

  • Galdriel's gift-giving, of course. Everybody who'd read the books noticed that was missing (or at least, most of it was).

  • Gimli revealing how smitten he'd become with Galdriel. Now, if you ask me, that was a real shame to have cut out in the first place, given how nicely they'd set up his initial anatagonism towards elves in general, and this "elf-witch" he'd heard rumors about, specifically.

  • A few more lines of verbal sparring between Legolas and Gimli, aka the Odd Couple of Middle Earth. Also a few more scenes between Aragorn and Boromir, which is another really interesting and complex relationship.

  • And I'm sure I'm forgetting a whole bunch...

    Man, now I really can't wait for The Two Towers!

    Thursday, December 05, 2002

    Keep On Searchin'...

    Remember how I said I never get tired of looking at the goofy search requests that bring people to this blog? I meant it! Here's the current batch:

  • sikozu naked: I'm now collecting search requests for naked Farscape characters. So far, I've had Sikozu, Crichton, and (multiple times) Zhaan. I'm hoping to collect the entire set. Come on, surely there's some twisted soul out there who wants naked pictures of Scorpius? Or Rygel? I suppose I should just disqualify Pilot, since he's already kinda naked all the time, anyway. And, hmm, it occurs to me that if somebody comes here looking for "stark naked," how can I tell if they're looking for nude pictures of the character, or just employing an adjective?

  • "stephen king" "gone downhill": I honestly couldn't say whether Stephen King has gone downhill or not, as I haven't read that many of his books, and the ones I have read certainly haven't been in anything like the order he wrote them. I do know that the man is badly in need of an editor who'll make him cut a few hundred pages per book, though. At this point, I feel as if I've been reading The Talisman for approximately six months.

  • spaceward ho what's the password: You've got me.

  • grayza pictures: Doggone it, they didn't specify naked, so I can't count it! Although, really, that outfit she wears leaves so little the the imagination she might almost just as well be naked...

  • successful episode of science and technology: A successful episode of science and technology doing what? I find that I'm actually quite curious about what the heck the rest of this thought might have been.

  • McDonalds fast food's sales: Billions and billions sold, or so I'm given to understand.

  • expansion asshole: This is about jerks getting fat, right? Right?

  • carrots and Thanksgiving: I'd think carrots would go better with Easter. You know, what with the bunny rabbits and all.

  • Mom naked: Not my Mom! Maybe they were looking for the Futurama character, though if you ask me, that's only marginally less ewww.
  • Wednesday, December 04, 2002

    You Wanna Know Something?

    I am getting really, really tired of eating turkey.

    Just thought I'd share.
    Star Trekkin'

    Just thought I'd pass on something from this week's TV Guide:

    As Enterprise Hits Ratings Turbulence, UPN Seeks Ways to Fire Up Its Sex Appeal

    A scant season ago, the latest Star Trek series, starring Scott Bakula, was a Top 20 show with 18- to 49-year-old male viewers. But Enterprise's ratings have plunged, and critics say the series doesn't have the same creative juice as its predecessors. "Enterprise started out strong," says Stacey Lynn Koerner, senior vice president and director of broadcast research at Initiative Media, a media-buying firm. "But this season it seems lost in space." UPN president Dawn Ostroff says that the Enterprise crew is ready to explore new directions and that trailers for the series shown in theaters in conjunction with the release of the move "Star Trek Nemesis" should recharge interest. "We've been working on the show," Ostroff says. "It's getting sexier. We're exploring relationships more and pushing the dramatic elements of the show. You'll see a lot more sides to the characters."

    Sigh. Guys, guys, guys... This desperate desire to make the show "sexy" is, in my humble opinion, a large part of the problem. I know I've said this before, but it's coming across lately as though the writers are trying to force the series into certain directions not because its what's right for the show or what works for the characters, but because they're trying to fit some notion of what those all-important 18- to 49-year-old males want. This is not a good thing. And, truly, if that last epsiode ("Vanishing Point," or whatever it was called) is an example of what they mean by exploring dramatic elements and showing more sides to the characters, please, please, just give me the Random Evil Alien of the Week instead.

    On a more positive note, TV Guide also had several articles on Star Trek: Nemesis, which looks pretty cool. (They also have some related stuff on-line here.) I am a bit annoyed, however, at how many plot points they reveal, including some very major hints about the ending. And I was doing such a good job at avoiding spoilers for this movie so far...

    Tuesday, December 03, 2002

    Amazingly Enough, It Appears That I Might Actually Have Successfully Fixed Something

    It rained pretty much all night last night, and my roof didn't leak at all. I'm thinking this is a really good sign. Go, Handyman Me!

    Monday, December 02, 2002

    A Real Eye-Opener

    'Nother link sent to me recently by a friend: check out these optical illusions (the sound effects are kind of nifty, too).
    Time for Tolkien

    I still haven't had the chance to watch any of the stuff on the extended-version Fellowship of the Ring discs (which I picked up while I was on vacation in New Jersey), but I have already made plans to go see The Two Towers when it comes out in a few weeks, an event which I am looking forward to with great anticipation.

    In the meantime, I thought I'd pass along a some links that a friend sent me a while back to a couple of good Time magazine articles: one on The Two Towers and another speculating about the reasons behind the current boom in the popularity of fantasy. Interesting stuff.

    Sunday, December 01, 2002

    When Does the "Entertainment" Part Start?

    I blogged last time about having to get a bigger entertainment center[*] to fit my shiny new TV into. Well, mission accomplished! I went up to Wal-Mart yesterday after my family left and purchased myself a truly impressive piece of furniture. It's got shelves, it's got cabinets, it's got more shelves... The thing is massive. It occurred to me after I put it together that I'm gonna be in big trouble if I ever decide to move, because there's no way it's ever going to fit out through the door.

    The downside of that is that it took forever to put the damned thing together. It's amazing how a simple "let's buy a new piece of furniture" project can simply eat up your entire day. Just buying the thing took most of the afternoon, given that it's a 90-mile round trip from here to Wally-world and that I had to fight all the weekend-after-Thanksgiving shoppers once I got there (not to mention spending 15 minutes looking for someone to help me move the box). Then I had to unhook the three thousand wires leading to, from, in, over, and around the old TV, the VCR and the DVD player. And remove everything from the shelves of the old unit. Then dismantle the old unit. Then put the new one together, which probably took me about five hours. Then I had to hook everything back up again. I still haven't put anything back onto the shelves of the new one, which means that there are currently DVDs and videotapes and games and other random things scattered all over my living room. And on top of it all, my arms are really, really sore from all that hammering and screwing and heavy lifting.

    But I keep thinking how cool it's going to be to, say, watch the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring on my beautiful new non-crappy TV in my big new entertainment center. I just have to get all that junk off the couch first so I can actually sit in front of the television...

    [*] And is it just me, or is that a really dumb-sounding name for a piece of furniture?